Many people don’t realize that beer is a perishable product. Like bread, beer is best shortly after it’s finished and begins to lose it’s “umph” thereafter. Fresh beer is especially good when it’s well-brewed fresh beer.
Periodically my husband Chuck will bring home a case of Nectar Ales from the Firestone Brewery in Paso Robles that was bottled only hours before. The freshness of the flavors come through in the beer and is quite noticeable. It helps that Matt Brynildson, the Brewmaster at Firestone, knows his stuff!
Contrast that with a beer that Chuck handed to me the other day. He didn’t tell me what it was, but asked me to smell it and tell him what I thought. One whiff and I said it was imported. “Imported” to me means old. It turns out the beer he handed me was a Warsteiner that was two years past its “best by” date. Other aromas can alert you to signs of light or heat damage. Years ago I became sensitive to “skunky” smells and “metallic” tastes in beer that are clear signs the beer has traveled too far and was not cared for properly in transit. I’ve been avoiding imported beer for many years.
The ones that can seem to handle a long trip best are your high hop and high alcohol beers, such as barleywines and IPA’s. But even with those, I’d rather drink them local and fresh. By “local” I mean I’ll accept anything brewed in California, which gives me a lot of great beer to choose from.
The flavor differences between fresh beer and imported beer are similar to buying produce at a farmer’s market vs the grocery store. Once you experience and appreciate the flavor of a fresh vine-ripe tomato, it’s impossible to go back to the bland, mealy, wax-covered tomatoes that have traveled halfway across the world.
Experience fresh beer. It’ll open a whole new world for you that you don’t have to travel far to get to.